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My first experience was in a game Gavin and our friend Bill created. If there is not a video out with Bill in it yet then no worries you will meet him soon enough. They co-created an open world campaign (Edge of the World) using D&D 4E for all of their friends to play, and there were plenty of us. I think at one point we had over 25 PCs existing in the world of Edge.
If you are not familiar with an open world campaign then let me explain as best I can. In Edge, there are no set story arcs to follow; there is just a partially filled in map that the players can use and, as they venture farther out from the known areas, fill in what we find. Gavin and Bill made a history for the area and gave us hints about what was around there but mostly it was up to the players to decide where to go and what we to do. We would let the GM know what the plan was about a week before meeting up to play so that they could prepare the random events that could happen as well as prepare any surprises that they wanted.
Oh and there were plenty of surprises. I was part of the first party that went out into this new world and we made many mistakes. My first character - yes we can make new ones but you had to start over from the lowest level which was level 4 at the time - was a cleric named Katorot. My party decided to head into the swamp where there were reports of undead creatures controlling an old Dragonborn city. Let's just say that four Level 4 were not supposed to be there. We stumbled into creatures that were way too powerful for us to handle. This can happen within an open campaign. There are no safe areas and not all the areas are scaled to match the players levels. Gavin and Bill each have a massive binder that reminds them what they had populated each hex with. Well safe to say, Kat did not make it out of the swamp that day but all of his friends did and that would have made that character happy.
The experience of losing the first character I created within the first few hours of playing a table top game got me hooked. I went home and had to make a new character that night. It is still the character I use in Edge to this day. His name is Dmitri and he is an avenger.
One of the other interesting aspects of Edge that our GMs wanted from us was a backstory on all new characters coming into the world. Since I was new I used some information from the fantasy worlds I was used to. It helped me build a backstory and explain why I chose the class and skills I did. Dmitri has been on many adventures in Edge and caused a lot of trouble for the world. There are some great stories that we at Nat One can get into about all the shit we caused. It is rather funny how much trouble Dmitri is partially responsible for. One of the funniest examples I know was when my group went searching two nearby islands to see what was on them. We found a White Dragon and some pirates. We did some pirate fighting but left most of those islands undiscovered because we were not equipped to take on those threats yet. Then we had a very fateful random encounter on the trip home...
At this time, I want to bring up something the Gavin and Bill make all of us do after every trip out into the world of Edge. One person from the party must create an in-character a recap of what transpires so that all the other players who were not present know what happened. Well for this adventure, I was selected to write the recap. Now back to the fateful encounter. On the trip back we had just escaped the White Dragon without issue when we set sail for Edge. In game the dates of the events happen between Dec 22-26 and, well, Gavin as GM rolled a 99 on the random encounters chart for us.
We were not prepared for that happened next. We were all still low level when a Kraken attacked our ship. This was my first experience with a giant creature and it was pretty much a boss fight. This is probably the fight that hooked me for good into playing all types of table top games. It was exciting and a little scary because I thought I might lose my second character in as many outings. However, I won't ruin the surprise as I said before I had to write the recap for this adventure. Next time, I'll regale you with the ode to the Christmas Kraken. :)
What got you hooked on table top gaming? Would you like to hear more off-camera adventures? Let us know!